Can A Menopausal Woman Get Mastitis?
Though mastitis is a common breast disease seen in lactating and breastfeeding mothers, it can sometimes be seen in menopausal women as well.
Menopausal women are more prone to a breast disease called mammary duct ectasia, in which the lactiferous ducts or the milk ducts that are present below the nipple or the areola get dilated or widened and shortened. As a result, there is a blockage in the milk ducts that can lead to an irritation in the duct walls that makes them inflamed. This is a self-limiting condition and often causes no symptoms. However, it is a troublesome and an annoying condition, that may be embarrassing at times too, especially if it is associated with a discharge from the nipples. This condition does not require any treatment and gets corrected on its own.
In menopausal women, if mastitis condition does not resolve and progresses further, it may result into an infection of the milk ducts. This bacterial infection is known as periductal mastitis.
Menopausal and post-menopausal women can develop chronic mastitis as their bodies undergo various hormonal changes during this period. These hormonal changes make the lactiferous ducts below the nipple and the areola get obstructed or plugged with anything like dead skin cells etc. the blockage irritates the walls of the duct and in response they get inflamed.
Mastitis is usually seen in breastfeeding women. Breastfeeding makes it easier for the bacteria to enter the nipples from the baby’s mouth and mother’s skin. Also, if the breast become full and are not emptied properly or completely, it may result in a bacterial infection. This usually happens when feeds are missed due to various reasons like infrequent feedings, long gaps between feedings because of baby’s increased nap time, offering one breast too frequently because the other breast suffers from a sore or a cracked nipple etc. due to excessive fullness of the breast, the milk leaks into the nearby breast tissue, which makes it more prone to the infection. Bacteria can enter the breasts through cracks or sores in women who are not breastfeeding and sometimes in men too. Nipple piercing is a common reason for development of mastitis as the pierced wound makes it easier for the bacteria to enter the breasts
Signs And Symptoms Of Mastitis
Signs and symptoms of mastitis are as follows
- The affected breast may become red
- It also gets swollen and feels tender to the touch
- There is a feeling of malaise and breast discomfort
- The affected breast may feel warm to the touch
- There might be a burning feeling in the affected breast
- Fever may be present along with pain
- Fatigue may be present
- Chills may be accompanied with fever
Treatment Of Mastitis
Most physicians believe that the first choice of treatment for mastitis should be self-care or home remedies. They consider that starting medicines unnecessarily can cause bad effects on the baby, as the baby will be breastfeeding. However, many believe that it is important to relieve the mother of the painful symptoms quickly so she can concentrate more efficiently on the feeding and caring of her baby. Depending upon the severity of the disease, you could try on these home remedies or go for a proper treatment by proper consultation of your physician.
Some steps that can be followed by lactating women are-
- Trying to drain the breasts properly and completely during the feeds
- Start feeding with the affected breast first
- After the feed, any leftover milk should be very gently expressed
- Non-lactating or menopausal women can assure-
- Drinking plenty of fluids and resting often
- Applying a warm compress to help soothe the painful breast
If these techniques do not seem to provide relief or if the symptoms of mastitis keep getting worse, it is best to seek medical help immediately, so that the physician can start you on other needed medications like antibiotics, immediately.